10 Keys to a Successful Business Intelligence Strategy
Business intelligence (BI) is vital for business growth but receiving benefits from BI requires more than just implementing the technology that is used to enable it. We have been hearing the buzzword ‘Business Intelligence’ from the past couple of years, how it helps in creating new business opportunities and making informed business decisions. Business intelligence (BI) is the key for organizations to stay pertinent in today’s ever-changing business landscape.
Following are the ten essential components of any successful BI strategy:
- BI is more than a technological initiative
First things first – it’s important to know that to succeed in deploying BI, one must have the support of key business departments. First, IT needs to be involved to ensure proper data integrity, governance and actual implementation. Also, stakeholders with different business areas should be involved throughout the BI deployment process. Understanding who will use what type of data and for what purposes can help in showing the right information needed thus guiding you in effective decision making.
- Have a strong validation process
Remember, quality outweighs quantity. Focus on making selected things better rather than trusting a lot of things that you suspect of producing faulty insights. The validation process of your organization needs to be agile and should also respond quickly to the latest BI functions. For instance, a BI tool generates reports on a company’s net sales figures. If that tool uses sales data but is not able to figure out the number of sold items that were returned, the final information provided is not useful. You don’t want people to comment “I don’t trust the data” thereby making the report worthless. So, focus on having a robust validation process.
- Prioritize business problems over data
Your marketing team spots a customer churn problem and needs to know why customers are leaving. The focus should be on delivering the capabilities to answer the marketing question by first deciding what metrics need to be measured then accessing the data required to calculate those metrics, and lastly enabling marketing to slice and dice the data. So, the primary focus should be the business problem.
- Create a data storage plan
Some organizations keep their data in an isolated data mart. Although it is quick and cheap, it will create additional silos whenever additional data storage is needed. Another thing needs to be considered whether you need to build a physical data warehouse or go with the semantic layers to link operational systems.
- Training & Reskilling
Your company’s employees should have the basic knowledge of reporting skills. Along with the latest development in analytics, users of business analytics must be reskilled and trained. This will ensure that your organization is well equipped to support value-driven decision making. Your organization should always welcome a data-driven approach. This will help you make smart and intelligent decisions that are informed and impactful.
- Keep your data clean
Now, that you have created a plan for data storage, it is vital that your organization’s data is clean. Cleaning data equals cleaning your analytics. Although cleaning the data could be a little difficult, clean data will help ensure the success of BI.
- Identify right key performance indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are the values measure how effectively a company is achieving their business objectives. KPIs inform if your business is on track and the areas it is lagging. When a BI strategy is implemented, ensure that your KPIs align with your company objectives.
- Choose the right BI software/partner for your business
Choosing the right BI tool/partner. While preparing for all the above steps, you will also need to find the right BI tool and implement it successfully. When implementing this process, choose between an on-premise or an online cloud-based BI solution. Try to start small but keep on scaling as your needs grow. This is a very important step, so do not rush through it. Also, go for free trials first.
- BI value assessment
Assess and measure the ROI at every milestone defined in the strategy. This will help keep the BI initiative more focused on cost efficiency and in identifying improvements in migration and technology upgrades. Continuous assessment also provides an opportunity to make modifications to the strategy to re-align to the changing business needs thus maximizing ROI.
- Follow a phased approach
Be persistent. An outcome based BI strategy always takes an iterative approach. Take small steps and be consistent. Start by building some dashboards and measuring a few KPIs. Gather feedback and repeat this process again with a new and better release. However, a good BI roadmap doesn’t have an end date. Your organization must keep on investing in it for long-term thereby refining data, processes and, reports.
For continuous business growth and an added advantage over your competitors; strategy, analysis and planning is required. A roadmap and constant evolution of strategies is very important to utilize the true benefits of a BI strategy. Without any direction and concrete plan, it is more likely you may get stuck in meaningless analytics. Thus, the above steps can be very useful for an organization to meet their business goals and to achieve a successful BI strategy.